Would Singapore be renamed Syonan To?

By: Chua Chin Leng

Below are a few paragraph from Tan Wah Piow in London on the naming of a new Singapore War Museum.

‘I was about to release a photo essay on my visit to the London Imperial War Museum on Sunday when I saw the news about a Singapore museum to be launched on Wednesday. I was shocked.

Who in his or her right mind would name a museum in Singapore, Syonan? Syonan-To is the name given to Singapore by the Japanese invaders during the War World II.

It is even more bizarre to time the opening of the Syonan Gallery on the day Japan conquered Singapore. To complete the joke, the Singapore government might as well invite the lunatic fringe of the Japanese ultra-right to officiate the opening of the museum.

The decision with the name, and the timing is an affront to the memory of the 50,000 Singaporeans who were executed by the Japanese, the majority of whom were from the 600,000 Chinese communities….’

The insensitivity in using Syonan with ‘affection’ for this war museum is totally unacceptable. I am equally dumbfounded. OK Yaacob Ibrahim in reply to public outcry said this was not the intention. How on earth could a name like Syonan, Syonan To that is a reminder of the massacres of 50,000 Chinese during the Japanese Occupation be resurrected in bold letters in Singapore soil as the name of a War Museum? Maybe this is the second best name. Did they ever consider naming it Yasukuni Museum or Kempeitai Museum to get better impact of the atrocities of the Japanese Occupation?

No one objected to this naming? Sure they did but why continued with it despite the controversial nature of this name? Is there no other option? How about doing the favourite like calling the Singaporeans to give it a name? Or try the second favourite, pay half a million to a foreign consultancy to come out with a better name like Marina Bay? Would a simple name like the Singapore War Museum or WW2 War Museum do?

The painful memories of the barbaric Japanese crimes committed on our soil are etched deeply in the heads of a disappearing ageing population? Some of the oldies are generous and would forgive the cruel Japanese for their war crimes against out forefathers. But it is something that cannot be forgotten. Some would not want to forget knowing that the barbaric Japanese are unrepentant and trying to whitewash their evil deeds committed during the invasion and claiming they were doing good or did not happen at all. How to forgive and forget when the evil perpetrators did not want to admit their guilt?

Tan Wah Piow has a good suggestion, invite Abe to officiate the Opening of the museum and the Japanese community here and in Japan would be most happy to participate. We would get a lot of Japanese tourists and Japanese money. Abe would book the first flight here and cancel all his other official appointments just to witness the resurrection of Syonan To, the jewel of Imperial Japan’s invasion of South East Asia. They would love to see what their Syonan To would look like if they have won the war, their prized war loot.

Seriously, is this a name that Singaporeans should be proud of, to be associated with a national monument? Syonan To is the darkest chapter of Singapore’s history. This name should not be glorified in any form but stayed in ignominy. There is nothing glorious or cute in this name. It must be spoken with contempt and not be on the lips of tourist guides and advertising material to be spoken as if it is just another tourist attraction.

Running out of ideas even in choosing a decent name for a national monument? How about getting a foreign talent for a better suggestion?


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